What’s the Number One Number Thing Today’s CEO’s Must Do? Do the OODA Loop Faster and More Innovatively

What’s the Newest Requirement for a CEO? Do the OODA Loop Faster and Better!

You would think it would to generate revenue, profits and reduce costs. Think again. It’s all about iterating and pivoting like a start-up. And who better than a former fighter pilot to teach CEO’s a thing or two about making quick. So I want you to meet John Boyd, who was among many things, a military strategist, colonel and fighter pilot whose theories are highly influential in the military, sports and business.

So why bring up Colonel Boyd in the context of CEO’s and their need to be nimble? Because investors and boards have transitioned from desiring quarterly profits (something that has driven Wall Street and corporations for many years) to searching for leaders to those who have the ability to disrupt their industry or die. What did the fighter pilot, Colonel Boyd used to make those decisions to do something out of the ordinary? He created a framework known as the OODA Loop:

  • Observe (M—ake the best use of the information and other intelligence resources available right now)
  • Orient (Quickly put the new observations into a context with the old)
  • Decide (Make quick decisions and take the “next actions” based on a combination of observations, current knowledge and intuition), and then
  • Act on those decisions to carry out the selected action(s), ideally— while the competitor is still observing your last action so you beat them to the punch!

OODA Loop

                                         Photo Source: Larry Paul

Above is a video from Ralph Mroz on the OODA Loop as applied to business if you want more information!

Observe, Orient, Decide and Act Is Known as John Boyd’s OODA Loop

As a fighter pilot, John had to make decisions in nano-seconds. With this framework of observe, orient, decide and act he way able to describe a way to iterate and pivot, very quickly, and decide if the object in front of them is friend or foe. Not doing so could mean life or death. It could also mean the end to a critical mission.  What does the OODA Loop mean to a CEO? Iterating and pivoting is also mission critical. Just ask the CEO of Ford Motor Company, Chief Executive Mark Fields. He was a 28 year old veteran of the business and was replaced by someone the business thought would be able to disrupt the automotive industry very quickly!

The Message is Simple: Do the OODA Loop Faster or Die

While Mr. Field’s did what most board’s used to expect of a CEO’s, i.e., he returned consistent profits, he did’t make enough changes fast enough. His OODA loop was too slow. But he didn’t know what he didn’t know. He, as many other CEO’s don’t realize that the winds of change are changing all around us. Like in most any industry, the car market has entered into the era of transportation.

It’s no longer just about building and selling a car. It’s about car-as-a-service. Think: ride-sharing (think Lyft, Tesla and ReachNow (by BMW.) It’s also about taking the traditional gasoline engine and transforming it’s power source to be an electric vehicle. And it doesn’t stop there. Some companies are disrupting the industry by experimenting with self-driving technology, making investments in connected cities (think BMW and Santa Monica, CA.) And at the same time Ford’s stock sank. 

How Fast Does Your CEO do The OODA Loop?

How fast do decisions get made? How fast can the ship be turned? Today, with the need to act quickly, the message is simple. We are in an age of rapid disruption by the software and tech industries. A leader of any company has to pick up the tempo and make riskier bets sooner… or die. While it was Mr. Field’s intention to set Ford on a path to be part of the new, emerging auto industry, he just didn’t do it fast enough.

Since Mr. Field’s took over three years ago, the share price of Ford is down 40%. As a CEO, as yourself, “Are you disrupting yourself, your company and your products fast enough? Are you really changing anything or are you just doing the old stuff just faster?” These are not easy questions, but ones that we all need to contend with. Consider you are one company and your are disrupting yourself faster than your competitor. What happens to the competitor?

ooda loop faster to drive innovation @drnatalie

                                                             Photo Source: Larry Paul

As a CEO, Are You On Track?

In military operations, OODA loops takes place in nano-seconds. In corporations, its decisions are often slower. In the old days, strategy was rigidly followed till next years’ planning cycle. But today, that’s no longer an acceptable mindset. And it’s critical to validate we’re on track and if not, correct it. Using a model like the OODA Loop, along with design-thinking which requires to you go and talk to your customers, your employees, customer’s of your competitors, to industries that are similar to your and industries that have nothing to do with yours.

It’s where the kernel of the seeds of innovation are hatched, born and grown into a full idea. The results of your actions become the observations to re-orient you to make your next decision. Quickly repeating the OODA loop equals success. And as you are doing this, you want to make sure you are making real-time changes that are just changes to make changes, but change to create a “Blue Ocean Strategy.” As defined by the author’s of the book, Blue Ocean Strategy, CEO’s need to quickly create an uncontested marketplace, where the competition is irrelevant.

Who’s Slow to the OODA Loop?

According to the article by Christopher Mims of the Wall Street JournalRonald Boire of Barnes & Noble, GNC Holdings’ Mike Archbold and top executives at three of the six major Hollywood studios making changes faster is very important. Where to look for inspiration? According to Mr. Mims, unlike large corporations, startups don’t need decades to make the changes the businesses need to succeed in the new world. They are nimble, they are always iterating, pivoting, changing, trying new things, not being afraid of conflict…

What does this mean for established companies? They will need to take drastic measures to do the OODA loop faster. What kind of drastic measures? According to the article, these CEO’s must be willing to tell their stakeholders they may have to lose money and cannibalize existing products and services, while scaling up new technologies and methods. Not the same old dog chow most CEO’s having been dishing out.

How Can a CEO Get On Track?

It used to be that you could acquire the start-up that was trying to put you out of business. But in today’s market it takes more than that. Companies that are disrupting the marketplace are growing so quickly, capturing so much market share, they don’t want or need to be acquired. And they can become too valuable to buy or are unwilling to sell. So the questions for you, as a CEO, “Is do you have systems to monitor/measure what employees know, think & feel about what is going on in the business?”

They are often the ones on the front line that really know what is going on and what needs to be done, or at least what isn’t working. “Do you really know what your customers know, think & feel? Or do you have a cordial relationship where the “real deal” is not really discussed?” Honest, conscious conversation is where it all starts. Many people have made careers by learning how to manage-up well. That’s not a bad thing, except when you aren’t telling the CEO the truth about what the troops think, feel and know. But there has to be a cultural environment that always you to be able to safely say the things. That’s not always the case.

And, as a CEO, “Do you take that information that you have gathered from your employees, your customers, all kinds of sources and integrate it into your company?” One of the best ways to stay on top of the game is to monitor social and digital media. If you have a digital / social media command center, where all the top news and information is brought into one central place, you can begin to digest a new picture of the quickly changing landscape very easily. You’ll also want to keep your ear closely attuned to what is happening in the start-up world, regardless of whether it is Silicon Valley or Silicon Beach or Silicon Edge or…

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

To me, all of this sounds like something very familiar to those of us who came from the voice of the customer or quality. Remember Deming, the father of Quality who was pushed out of the American Auto Industry? And then only to be invited to Japan and make their automative industry soar? What was his secret sauce? To listen to their customers and the employees. To make really changes to their products and services based on that feedback!

Start Incubating Innovation

Today, companies must incubate disruptive ideas within their own corporate cultures. And this is not easy, because often it means supporting them as they grow into something truly disruptive. The company might have to absorb their losses. For example, for its first 20 years Amazon made almost no profit. But iterating, pivoting and incubating is not enough. A CEO must maintain the existing business at the same time as they innovate. This is a new and rare skill.

So where best to learn how to think like an OODA Loop CEO? Find a group that help take you through thinking differently, through a design-thinking process where you never know what will come out of it, but it always spurs innovation. You have to cross the chasm, from how you normally do things, to how things have never been done before. That’s a lot of change, so it’s also important to develop those ideas and new innovations in the culture where change and honestly is accepted and appreciated.

@drnatalie

VP, Program Executive, in the Innovation and Transformation Center 
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Digital Disruption is Gonna Get You Unless You Prepare Your Brand Now

Disruption surrounds the marketplace. As companies face disruption in their industry, the race to stay ahead of or beat the competition is quickening. Software is one of the ways companies competitively automate, manage and analyze business processes, data and content and scale operations. And to successfully compete in this increasingly digital world, enterprises need to transform slow, error-prone operations from manual, analog processes to automated digital workflows and document generation.

However, as various departments in companies buy software applications, often the lines of business are choosing the best of breed solutions and platforms which don’t necessarily easily integrate with each other or the main IT systems. This results in companies having many separate software systems. With people distributed over large geographies, it can be difficult to coordinate work across the business and thus defend against competitors.

While obtaining the right software for each department and use case is important, this often leaves the organization without a way to easily connect the work flows across departments and lines of business to get the return on investment. What is the key to winning the digital transformation race? A digital business process flow platform.

Businesses that drive process efficiency and effectiveness across desperate software solutions and across every aspect of their business will be uniquely qualified to position themselves to exceed and excel. To do this, companies need a platform to digitally integrate, sync and create sophisticated business processes independent of the variety of different software solutions throughout the various departments in a company.

The issue is however, not just to connect SaaS applications, but to also provide process automation to make sure the processes from each of those applications work together well. Without a digital workflow and content automation (WCA) platform and corresponding analytics, it can be very difficult to make sure the investments the organization has made in separate software solutions are actually returning the investment. Nintex does just that.

Competitive Positioning

Nintex’s key differentiator is they offer a digital transformation platform comprised of Nintex Workflow Cloud and Nintex Hawkeye. The host of Nintex’s digital SaaS connectors allows clients to rapidly build and deploy a digital workflow and content automation (WCA) and cloud transformation platform without having to write code. The business result is the ability to acquire customers faster, increase the pace of innovation, as well as control and manage expenses. The platform allows organizations to automate their business processes quickly and easily. And the drag and drop interface encourages quicker adoption of the Nintex solution. Importantly, any workflow automated with Nintex Workflow can be deployed to native mobile platforms (Android, iOS and Windows) in a rapid and simple manner.

The Nintex platform automates processes on and between enterprise content management systems and collaboration platforms, connecting on-premises, cloud workflows and mobile users. Two hundred of the Fortune 500 companies use Nintex, including more than 7,000 public and private organizations in 90 countries, running millions of workflows daily.

For companies that are not ready to move everything to the cloud, Nintex also allows companies to create workflows that stretch across both cloud-based and on-premises systems and services, to distribute work to multiple sites for multiple purposes and move data and workflows to the cloud when they are ready.

Nintex’s overall power is as a Digital Business Platform (DBP). Nintex combines powerful Workflow and Content Automation (WCA) capabilities in one platform. (Editor’s Note: WCA is an emerging technology category that consolidates the legacy technology markets of Business Process Management (BPM) and Customer Communications Management (CCM).) Nintex offers advanced WCA for its easy-to-use workflow and document generation capabilities and workflow analytics (workflow process intelligence).

Target Markets and Industry Vertical Solutions

Target markets include Communications and Media, Education, Financial Services, Government, Healthcare and Life Sciences, Legal, Manufacturing, Professionals Services, Retail Services and Technology industries. Nintex solutions are designed for a range of lines of business within organizations, including Sales and Marketing, Finance, Human Resources, IT and Administration, Customer Service, Field Service and Safety.

High-payback document processes that are faster to implement with a system like Nintex include those in Table 1, customer-facing processes as well as back-office processes (see Table 2a and 2b.) What’s important to note is that the implementation timeframe and costs are fractions of a traditional enterprise-level IT system and instead of using a single, formal, top-down development effort, they are evolved with rapid iterations. This takes a page out of the lean-process, design-thinking community, where rapid iterations and pivoting is key to success and gives large organizations not used to the start-up mentality the edge to be more competitive, quicker.

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Customer References

In speaking to Nintex customers our research found that many of the gains came from having an easy way to process and execute their digital transformations. This might include moving to the cloud, reducing the number and complexity of workflows like creating and approving a press release, signing and approving contracts, reducing resources and reassigning them to more important jobs as well as reducing the number of software applications used by the company.

The savings in time for enhanced workflows advanced the company’s position in the marketplace, allowed them to get to market faster and beat the competition. In addition, IT departments were able to be more focused on the needs of the business versus being taxed with the maintenance of many separate software applications. These typical IT responsibilities took IT’s time and focus away from the direct needs of the business. By implementing Nintex, the relationship between the lines of business and IT were greatly improved. With the ever changing dynamics in IT, the IT department needs to be highly agile and flexible in the solutions they provide for the business. Nintex provides IT with what they need to deliver to the business. This makes IT more relevant than ever, which is especially key when many lines of business are buying their own software. Now, more than ever, IT can play a key role in the success of the business.

Are you looking to digitally transform your business? Have you determined which processes are slowing the digital transformation of your business? And do you have a solution to take those manual, error-prone processes and digitally enable them? This report will help you in choosing a vendor that can help you with just that.

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, www.ConstellationR.com

Covering customer and employee applications that empower digital workplaces

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